29 December 2006

Cozumel/Cancun Trip Update

On the travel front everything is still a go for Cancun/Cozumel. I've been doing some research on the internet and I'm getting more and more excited. First I was looking into cenote (pronounced 'say no tay') diving. The Yucatan Peninsula's highest elevation above sea level is only abut 150 feet and it is made up of a porous limestone material. From what I understand there really are no rivers. At least not above ground. All the water runs through underground caverns/caves. Some places in the jungle the ground has caved in to reveal these underground rivers. The Mayans considered the cenotes (cenotes is in fact a mayan word) to be a very magical place. The entrance to the underworld. The underworld was not hell to the Maya's. It is at these points that they can be dived. Although special training is required to dive deep into the cave, "cavern" diving where you are never 50 feet or so from the outside light source is allowed with a guide and a basic open water certification. They are supposed to be very beautiful and from the pictures I've seen they are. Visibility in the cenotes can be up to 400 feet!! Next I was looking online at local dive shops and pretty much all of them will take you to the cenotes. I also found out that there is a dive shop right in our hotel. Blue Caribe. Whoo hoo! Our dive shop will take us on day trips to the island of Cozumel (famous for it's aquatic life, drift dives and visibility up to 200 feet) and we can dive, locally, right from our hotel all day. Their boat leaves for 2 tank dives in the morning and single tank dives in the afternoon. Topside between/after dives we will visit the mayan ruins.

Leisure Pro Final Update

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Leisure Pro finally credited us back for the octo that I didn't like and returned. It took them a week to do so after they received it. I had called them a few days after they received it and they said it can take up to 2 weeks. All & all dealing with them went smooth and I probably would use them again. However I think I'm going to try to do all my scuba business locally from now on.

28 December 2006

The Last Dive

If you like the book, Shadow Divers, read this. I'm just about to the last chapter of the book, The Last Dive, by Bernie Chowdhury. Both books take place in the same locations with much of the same people. A true life story of a father and son's fatal descent into the ocean depths. It follows their lives and how they got into scuba, tech/wreck/cave diving, and the terrible end. Chowdhury also probes into some very interesting stuff like the evolution of scuba and tells of his own experience getting severely "bent", his trip to the hospital, treatment in a recompression chamber, and recovery. The book makes me throw out any idea I may have ever had about doing a decompression dive, which was none in the first place. I'll stick with my recreational, no-decompression dives, thank you. I highly recommend it to any divers and non-divers alike.

26 December 2006

Dive Training Magazine

I found a new dive magazine in the book store the other day. Dive Training. It had some interesting articles. Their motto on the cover is, "Good divers are always learning." Which I fully agree with. I may subscribe to this one for a year and see how it is.

24 December 2006

Scuba Cat

I saw this on You Tube. The title says it all. Scuba Cat.

22 December 2006

Calypso/Titan Octopus

I stole the truck from Christine today and cruised over to Underwater Sports to pick up an Octopus for to replace the one I returned. I chose an Aqualung Calypso/Titan. Although I've seen nothing in my research saying this reg/octo is cold water rated the guy in the shop told me that unless I was going ice diving this one would be good. As you may remember from my other posts this is the same brand as my primary regulator and first stage. In fact this is the model that Aqualung created specifically for my first stage and reg.

Aqualung's Specs for it are as follows -

  • A mid-sized, feature-rich alternate air source
  • Diver-controlled Venturi Adjustment Switch (VAS) reduces sensitivity to free flow on the surface and provides maximum airflow at depth
  • Equipped with Aqua Lung's exclusive Comfo-Bite™ mouthpiece
  • Equipped with 39-inch yellow hose for visibility

Scuba Diving Magazine had this to say - Although it just missed the cut for the Testers' Choice rating in this category, our evaluation clearly shows this simple, no-frills octopus version of Aqua Lung's Calypso second stage to be a worthy backup breather. It comes with a high-vis yellow 39-inch hose and a large yellow full-cover purge that delivers a powerful burst of air. This makes clearing the octo easy for an out-of-air diver on the verge of panic. A Vane Adjustment Switch (VAS) helps prevent free-flows when the octo is not being used. Test divers found it to be a little small for a gloved hand and not very well-marked, but said it gets the job done. Its exhaust tee is larger than most, which contributes to better-than-average bubble dispersion, but also makes the reg a little harder to stow. All in all, however, the Calypso/Titan is a full-sized octo with full-sized breathing performance. It earned Very Good to Excellent scores on the breathing simulator, and test divers found it to be a smooth, dry breather.

I was going to try out all my new equipment in the pool at the shop but someone was having a refresher course at the time. I did pick up a few more items. Some clips for attaching equipment to my BC and a dive slate.



Update - Although neither I or my buddy needed to use this back up breather I had no problems with is over my Mexico trip.

21 December 2006

Seattle Power Outage/Wind Storm

Well I'm back. Last thursday we had a killer wind storm sweep through the pacific northwest and it knocked out our power for 5 days. Puget Sound Energy (serving the area around Seattle) reported 700,000 customers without power. Seattle City Light reported having 375,000 without power. From what I under stand "feeders" are the poles that transfer power from the sub stations to the neighborhoods. Each feeder supports about 3000-4000 customers. During a typical wind storm here Seattle City Light claims usually one or two feeders are knocked out. This time they had 61 knocked out. Power crews came to help out from all across the western United States.

The first day we stayed here and bundled up. We actually tried to find a hotel but everyone else in the city beat us to them. The second day Christine called around all day for a hotel and finally found one up in Edmonds. We stayed there for 2 days then, since I work for Starwood, I managed to hook up a "hot rate" at the Westin. This worked out pretty well since our holiday party was on the 19th. We just walked from the hotel to the party and back.

During the outage I would come home to see if the power came back on again and feed the cats. I called it the dead zone. No one was around. All the usual noise was gone. No lights in the neighborhood. No heat. No hot water. No phone. For the first 2 days even our cell phones didn't get reception here. It was almost like a ghost town. Many gas stations were without power and lines were getting long at the others. I heard someone say they saw a bunch of people wandering around like zombies in front of a powerless grocery store. That cracks me up. Like the movie Dawn of the Dead.

Lets see, scuba wise, I'm going to go have all my new gear checked out by a local shop, buy another octo and possibly try it all out in their pool tomorrow. UPS shows that Leisure Pro received the octo I returned but I haven't seen a credit back to our card yet.

Oh we closed on our condo.

13 December 2006

Update on the Leisure Pro Experience

My quick release, low pressure inflator hose for my buoyancy compensator (which Leisure Pro forgot to send me) came in the mail today, along with the instruction manual for the BC. This actually made it here in pretty good time so I'll give Leisure Pro a few more points.

07 December 2006

My Experience with Leisure Pro

My order came in yesterday from Leisure Pro. Leisure Pro is an online store for scuba gear. I know, I know everyone recommends buying equipment from a local scuba shop and for this reason I've been wary for a number of years. Then one of my dive instructor friends recommended them to me. So I made my choices and ordered my goods. About a week and a half later they arrived. A side note here, UPS has been in our apartments everyday this week between 1 and 3. The day my stuff is supposed to come they get here at 5:30pm. But I digress. My equipment came packed well and in good condition. I carefully inspected everything, slowly, as I was unpacking. The scuba equipment I chose impressed me even more in my hands then on the internet and I can't wait to use it. Two small problems, however. 1) My Bouyancy Compensator didn't come with a low pressure, quick disconnect, inflator hose and 2) a manual. So the next day I called Leisure Pro. Their phone number was easy to find on their web site. (A plus.) They were polite on the phone and took care of me. (Another Plus.) They are sending me the hose and the manual. In the mean time I downloaded a manual from Zeagle's website. One other issue (this one my mistake) is I'm not happy with my choice of Octo. The octo looks great, (see my blog, Scuba Gear Part III) however I will be doing some diving in cold water and it's not cold water rated. So I wanted to return it. Leisure Pro had no problem with that either and gave me all the information for shipping it back. Over all I give them a good rating. I'll post again how the return pans out and if and when my LP hose comes.

01 December 2006

Scuba Gear Part IIII - The Buoyancy Compensator (BC)

There is yet one more hose attached to our first stage (unless I get a dry suit one day, then 2 more hoses, but I digress). This is the low pressure inflator hose and it, of course, connects to our Buoyancy Compensator (BC) which is where we will be concluding our tour of my new scuba equipment. When I notice differences in equipment I notice them most in the BC. Where the control buttons are positioned are very important to me. I like a 'trigger' style grip as opposed to the buttons being side by side. The Tusa Liberator BC, for example, has one button sitting nicely by the index finger and then one poorly positioned on the side (some Tusa BC's do have the positioning I like however). The size and fit is very important to me. I think for my first 4 dives I had a BC that was to large and was always riding up. And I've decided that back inflation BC's are less bulky under the arms then the jacket style inflation. Also I prefer weight integrated BC's over wearing a weight belt.

I chose the Zeagle Stiletto. Here are it's features as per their web site -

The Stiletto is ideal for the diver who wants a system
for both travel and local diving. It is designed to pack
easily into a lightweight travel system, yet has plenty
of capacity for cold water or drysuit use.
• Zeagle’s most rugged Travel BC
• 35-lb lift capacity heavy duty low profile .
. retracting bladder
• Personal Fit System (PFS)Sizing
• Reinforced 1000 denier nylon construction
• Two zippered utility pockets
• Adjustable elastic waist panels
• Lumbar Pad
• 5 Stainless Steel D-rings
• Adjustable Sternum Strap
• 30-lb capacity Ripcord weight system
• 20-lb Capacity (sewn on) rear mount
weight system

I also like the fact that Zeagle is a family own business and still designs and produces their BC's in their own factory in Zephyr hills, Florida. About Zeagle.

Update - This BC worked great on my Mexico trip. Never felt like it was riding up. Never felt like it was riding funny, no problems, easy to reach and use controls. Although thankfully I didn't need to dump the weights, they were easy to load and unload.

30 November 2006

Scuba Gear Part III - The Octopus

Now yesterday were on the subject of regulators and 1st stages and we'll keep that train of thought so lets travel from the regulator (2nd stage) back up the air hose to the first stage again. Yes here on the first stage this is where everything really happens isn't it? All these hoses coming together up here. This really is the party place in the SCUBA harness. Now for today's post we are going to jump onto a third air hose. This is a bright, easy to see, yellow one. Yeah that's right, Dorothy, we're going to follow the yellow brick road. Down we go now to our Octopus. Our little, or not so little, yellow regulator we share with our buddies when/if they run low on air.

Well, sadly, this piece of equipment I did not spend a whole lot of money on. Yeah if you are my buddy and you run out of air, it's not going to be as nice breathing on my octo as it was on your reg. But it should deliver the air just fine and we should both make it back to the surface a'ok.





I chose the Aqua Lung ABS. It can't be all that bad. It is made my Aqua Lung after all. And it received a "testers choice" award from Scuba Diving Magazine. Here are the features from Aqua Lung -

  • The New ABS Octopus combines excellent breathing performance with the benefits of a low profile body style.
  • Exceeds CE breathing requirements for regulators
  • Versatile design allows proper function when right side up or upside down
  • Unique 120° angle between hose and mouthpiece: This Aqua Lung innovation is ideal for giving your octopus to a buddy - will work in either right hand or left hand positions. No more sharp bends in the hose or upside down octopuses in the mouth
  • Custom quick-release mounting clip keeps the ABS properly located on the body at all times
  • 39" yellow hose easily distinguishes your ABS hose from your primary hose. This high visibility hose is easily spotted in case of an out-of-air emergency

29 November 2006

Scuba Gear Part II - The Regulator

Since I covered the computer console yesterday I will just follow our high pressure hose up to the first stage and down to the regulator. Man this was a hard one. I know at least 20 manufacturers of regs. Most companies have several different models in a vast range of price. It's really quite amazing the amount of features, types of material, and construction that goes into something which basically just delivers air. Hmmm, just delivers air. Did I really say that? Air is life! We need air! In all types of environments. Polluted, silty, cold, warm, under various pressures in a single dive. We need a regulator that delivers a nice breath of air with no moisture in it. We need regulators that deliver air sideways and upside down, with little effort, regardless of the volume of air were taking in under the increased pressure. And one that will allow oxygen enriched air, should we choose to do so.

Yeah can you imagine what it was like 20 - 30 years ago. When you put it in perspective we really have it made today. I'll quote Scuba Diving Magazine again from their article, How Much Should You Spend on a Regulator? They say,"How a regulator goes about delivering air--pistons or diaphragms, balanced or unbalanced first stages, adjustable or nonadjustable second stages--isn't as important today as it was 10 years ago. Credit clever engineers or blame clever lawyers, but today no company can afford to sell an underperforming regulator. Nearly all of them--regardless of price or design--will safely deliver all the air you'll need down to 130 feet and a good distance beyond. There are many regulators priced well under $300 that do the basic job and even some budget models that deliver as much air in extreme conditions as the most expensive ones." A note again that when I speak of regulators I speak also of the First Stages since they usually come together.

One of the big factors for me was cold water. You see while I prefer to dive in warm water environments I live here in the Pacific Northwest. I've dove here before and I know I will again. So do I buy a cold water regulator or not. You may know as air expands it gets colder and when it gets compressed it heats up. (Pump up a bike tire to it's maximum pressure and feel the pump hose afterwards. It's warm.) So you're in the cold water, chillin your air hose and as the air comes into the regulator it expands, thus making it more cold. There is the possibility that any moisture in there will form ice crystals and "freeze up" your reg. Not good. So they have "cold water" regs that get around this. Water below 50 is considered cold water for a regulator. I've dove around here in water between 43 and 60. So I opted for the one of these regs. Here are the specs from the Aqua Lung website -

The Titan LX Supreme is the cold-water version of the Titan LX and can be identified by the "snowflake" seen on the front of the case. It has all the same features as the Titan LX and additional cold-water features:

  • First stage environmental dry seal kit to prevent ice from forming in the first stage
  • Specifically adjusted to pass the stringent European Standards for cold-water regulator performance
  • Built-in heat exchanger
  • A mouthpiece lip shield for warmth in extreme cold
  • Proven Titan balanced diaphragm first stage.
  • Air Turbo System
  • Compact 1st stage design
  • Pneumatically-balanced compact, lightweight second stage maintains consistent ease of inhalation as tank pressure drops
  • Diver-controlled Venturi Adjustment Switch (VAS) reduces sensitivity to free flow on the surface and provides maximum airflow at depth
  • Exclusive Comfo-Bite™ mouthpiece virtually eliminates jaw fatigue
  • 4 low pressure ports and 1 high pressure port.
  • All ports angled for optimum hose position.
  • Compatible with EAN 40 right out of the box
Update - This reg and first stage worked wonderful over my Mexico trip. I noticed no difficulty breathing at depths up to 90 feet.

28 November 2006

Scuba Gear Part I - Computer Console

So I actually purchased my SCUBA gear. After reading a sea of articles, manufacturers websites ans some posting to the Northwest Dive Club about "cold water" regulators I finally made some decisions. It was tough. Each specific piece of gear seems to have an unlimited number of options and ranges of performance. But with all that comes greater and greater price tags. I'll post about each of the items I purchased over the next few days. Today we'll talk about the dive computer.

It's an Aeris Atmos 2 in a quick disconnect console with a compass, analog tank pressure gauge and dive knife on the back. Scuba Diving magazine's Scuba Lab gave it a Tester's Choice.

Overview -
Nitrox compatible (21-50%)
•PC downloadable, up to 255 dives
•Manual & water activation
•Audible alarm with flashing LED
•User-replaceable batteries
•User programmable alarms (ascent rate, max depth, PO2, N2, O2, dive time remaining, elapsed dive time, PO2)
•Advanced dive plan simulator
Desaturation countdown timer
•No-fly timer
•Depth to 330', 1st deco stop @ 60' Gauge mode to 399'
•Temperature (on the surface and at depth)
•Time and date stamps for log & download
•N2/O2 bar graphs
•Imperial/metric
•Dive log

Check out a complete list of features, with descriptions, at the Aeris web site here - http://www.diveaeris.com/p_computers_atmos2_features.html

Update - While diving in Mexico this computer and console delivered all the information I needed. Easy to read and quite easy to use. I'm quite satisfied.

24 November 2006

Scuba Equipment

So it's been like 2 and 1/2 years since I first dove into this wonderful world of SCUBA and finally I may be getting my own equipment. It's really a Christmas gift from my wife but I have to pick it out. We are going to Cancun/Cozumel in February and she wants me to have my own kit. I always figured I would buy one piece at a time but she said I should just buy the full package. Who am I to argue? I'll post more once I purchase the stuff.

10 November 2006

American Accent?

I saw this on Dave's Beer Blog and I had to try it myself. Apparently this is my American "accent".

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The South
Boston
The Inland North
Philadelphia
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

07 November 2006

Diving one atmosphere ABOVE sea level.

This morning I read a great article in my Alert Diver Magazine. Alert Diver is put out by Divers Alert Network (DAN) to it's members. I highly recommend a DAN membership to anyone who is an active diver. DAN can be called anytime for advice on a dive emergency from anywhere in the world. They will help with transportation and can recommend the nearest hyperbaric chamber and/or hospital.

In the Article, Diving the USS Barometer, written by Richard D Vann, PH. D., DAN Vice President of Research, a man was messing around with his turtle pond. He filled a jar with water, raised the closed end above the surface of the pond and a fish swam up into the jar. This got him thinking. What if the jar were 10 feet in diameter, 60 feet long and filled with sea water? Suppose the open end were under the water and the closed end above sea level. What would be the pressure at sea level inside the jar? What would happen if a diver swam up into the jar? As a diver I found the answers extremely interesting. First off since every 33 feet of sea water is equal to one atmosphere of pressure the water in this giant jar would only raise up 33 feet. It would rise no further, no matter how high the tube was raised. Pressure in the tube would of course decrease as the diver ascended. The empty headspace at the top of the column is really water vapor. Pressure at the bottom of the tube (sea level) would be 1.0 ata or atomsphere. Swimming up to a mere 16.5 feet the absolute pressure would fall to half or .5 ata and would be equal to an altitude of 18000 feet! At 24 feet pressure would be equal to .3 ata or 30000 feet. Almost the pressure equivalent of an astronaut's space suit! Mt Everest is 29000 feet. Two problems will occur. First, a diver breathing air at 24 feet in the water column will become unconscious from insufficient oxygen (hypoxia), because the oxygen partial pressure at 30000 feet of altitude is only .06 atm or equivalent to 6 percent at sea level. The astronaut's suit is filled with pure oxygen. Second, just as decompression sickness (DCS) will occur from poor diving practice, acending to quickly, etc, the diver will develop incapacitating or fatal altitude DCS as the nitrogen (which makes up most of our air, as you may know (all you divers should!)) dissolved in our tissues becomes bubbles. Think about this!! This blows my mind! As diver we follow the Recreational Dive Planner (RDP) or our dive computer to stay at certain depths for specific amounts of time so we don't absorb to much and/or we off gas the nitrogen as we slowly ascend and do our safety stops. It never occured to me that we already have nitrogen dissolved in our tissues just standing, walking around at sea level. Nor the fact that astronauts have to off gas nitrogen before they decompress into their space suit pressure. They breathe pure oxygen for up to four hours at sea level. Think about this artifical world: A column of compressible air more than 100,000 feet tall was replaced with a 33 - foot tall column of incompressible sea water.

The article goes on into some other interesting points such as cold boiling. Kudos to DAN and the aurthor Dr. Richard Vann.

24 October 2006

A New Chapter

Our house in Arizona has sold. The final deal is closed. We didn't make as much as we had hoped but we didn't lose anything. A burden, a weight has been lifted. The weight of paying rent here and mortgage (Mortgage- Etymology: Middle English morgage, from Anglo-French mortgage, from mort dead (from Latin mortuus) + gage ) there. And from paying utilities on both. And, although I do not miss the desert heat and my 30 mile commute to work, I do miss my house. It was a fine house, a new house, a house we put work into. A place we called home. It was ours to do with as we felt. The door is closed.

Now the quest for a house here in Seattle begins. And with it a new chapter in our life. We will find a house here. We will purchase, invest in, live in and love in our new home.

16 October 2006

Und das ist alles!


Ah let's see, been a little while. I'll start with the two new episodes of the new Battlestar Galactia. So far we are happy with both.

We had our forth wedding anniversary. We went out to dinner. Christine got to have a lottle shopping spree and I got a new digital camera. It's a Nikon D80 and so far I'm extremely happy with it. I was going to buy a Cannon but with this camera I can use my lenses from my old Nikon 35 mm SLR. Photography is another of the many hobbies I have. My wife and her family say I should sell my photos so I may give it a shot.

The weather actually behaved normally again with a few days of rain and fog. Looks like the season is here. Finally.

Our house is still in the process of being sold but everything seems to be going as planned.

A few bike posts and new links - Bicycle Banter

On the SCUBA side a co-worker and I have been talking about doing a local dive but I don't know if it will ever happen. Eric and I are still planning on Cozumel in January.

Und das ist alles.

02 October 2006

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica. Season 3 Premiere October 6th on the Sci Fi Channel. Rent it from the beginning. Watch the Webisodes. There is nothing more to say.

01 October 2006

The Sale of Our House.

Well I'm not sure I want to write this for fear of jinxing the whole thing but for my birthday I think we got a buyer for our house in AZ. Our real estate agent sent us some forms (buyers offer) and we all signed on them. The buyer wants to close on the 20th of October. I miss our house. I hate being back in an apartment again. Hopefully everything goes smooth and soon we will be buying our second house, here, in Seattle!

26 September 2006

It's My Birthday! It's My Birthday!

Happy Birthday To Me! Happy Birthday To Me! Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday To Me!

06 September 2006

Reflections on Stingrays

Stephen Frink, Director of Photography, for Scuba Diving Magazine posts his comments on the death of Steve Irwin and Stingrays. Reflections on Stingrays

I hope this doesn't give stingrays a bad rap. Even though the Crocodile Hunter sort of dropped out of the U. S. limelight I'm going to miss the guy.

05 September 2006

Vancouver Island Diving


Christine's sister, her husband and their daughter planned another visit here to Seattle and to Parksville on Vancouver Island. Eric (brother-in-law/dive buddy found this nice little resort there. Pacific Shores Resort and Spa. We had stagged our Nanaimo dives out of there 2 years ago. Eric and I had talked about taking a drysuit specialty course together and I had called a few dive shops here in Seattle, but with such short notice, and the short time that they were staying here we couldn't get anything booked. It looked like we weren't going diving after all. Christine and I were to take a ferry accross from Tsawassen to Sidney and they were meeting us there. Just so happens that there was a dive shop right in the area where they were waiting. Eric walked in and was talking to the owner, got the dive bug, and the next thing you know we were planning dives.

The dive shop, Liquid Heaven, I would go to again, and would recommend. The owners were friendly, organized, and had plenty of rental equipment. We, not planning to dive, had no equipment, and rented everything.

The Buoyancy Compensator was a Tusa. Tusa Liberator, I believe. I did not like the placement of the control buttons on this BC, although on the surface it held my face high out of the water, and my body in an upright, comfortable position. Whereas Seaquest BC's tend to put me face down in the water, on the surface. I think I might have been able to jam most, if not all of the weight into the BC insted of dragging around the 30 pound weight belt that the shop rented to me. I could have at least rented a lighter one and added weight on the boat. Come to think of it having the weight on the belt insted of the BC pockets maybe what gave me a more upright position on the surface. The mask was also a Tusa, of the Liberator line. This mask didn't liberate me from anything. You could say I needed to be liberated from it! It was my biggest complaint. The top of the mask pressed on my fore head like a steel bar throughout the dive, regardless of equalization. My own mask is an Aqua Lung Quartz 1 which has a bit more soft material between the hard plastic/glass portion and my head. Liquid Heaven did not rent dive computers. Which is a real bummer because I like to record everything.

The dive site, or rather the boat dock, is about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive from where we were staying. If we dive there again I would stay closer. Liquid heaven did not have their own dive boat so they chartered us through Rockfish Divers operating out of Brentwood Bay Lodge and Spa. (Brother-in-law, Eric is standing in their boat in the picture above.) So if I were to dive in the same locations I would cut out the middle man, Liquid Heaven (sorry guys), and just rent from Rockfish. It would save me from dragging equipment from one place to the other, time, and money. Also according to Rockfish divers website, they rent dive computers. Why didn't I think of that when I got on the boat? They even rent DPV's (Sea Doo Scooters). All of the people at Rockfish were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

The first dive site of the day is called "White Lady" because at a 100 feet or so there are these huge white sponges, although we didn't dive that deep, and they say they are dying and no one knows why. On the surface White Lady is marked by a small rocky island which, on this day, had about 8 seals/sea lions? on it. There were 8 of us on the first dive. We all decended at once causing a huge cloud of silt on the bottom. Vis was cut to about 5 feet. Stay off the bottom. Watch your fin kicks. Although I'm guilty of this myself. Eric was having trouble staying down. He was underweighted. I wasn't aware of this. Everyone took off. I followed and then spent about 5 minutes looking for Eric. No Eric so I surfaced. There he was, of course. He got his buoyancy problem sorted out and we went back down with another diver who also lost the group. Once at depth (we stayed around 40-60 feet), and away from everyone else the vis opened up to about 30 feet. We saw the typical cold water stuff. None of the elusive 'cool' creatures came out (octo, wolf eel, 6 gill), the seals didn't even join us. In fact, when we surfaced they were gone from the island altogther.

Back to the dock to drop 2 people off and then out to Willis point wall for dive 2. This would be a good site but again everyone was stiring up the soup. I was torn between looking at sea life, my buddy, and trying to keep up with the leader. I think Eric and I would have got more out of it traveling at a slow, leisurely, observant pace. Besides the typical fish, I saw a 3 foot "dogfish" shark.

At both sites I was only slightly cold. I wore a 7mm shorty over a 7mm farmer john, with bootes, gloves and a hood. The outside air was around 70F, surface temp around 65F and about 55F at depth. Once again we didn't have a cool computer to give us all the exact information. Both dives were in the Saanich Inlet which is very smooth most of the time. Almost like a lake. All together it was a good experience. View some photos here as well as my other scuba photos here- http://www.flickr.com/photos/neutralbuoyancy/sets/72157594446978102/.

20 August 2006

Phoenix to Seattle (1500 miles part II) It didn't get off without a hitch.

Oh man. The time has come. 'Twas a long month up here without Christine and the time to bring her up had come.

First of all our cats had to get boarded. Yes, it appears that my friends up here either -

  1. hate cats
  2. don't have a car
  3. are afraid of my cat
  4. or just don't want to be put out

for when it comes time that I need a cat sitter, no one is available. The issue is compounded with that fact that Bailey, our fractious, I don't like most people in the world and will try my best to kill them, black cat, is diabetic. Not only would someone need to come to our house, change the cat litter and feed the cats but also give Bailey an insulin shot. And it would generally have to be at the same time everyday. So the cats went off to the vet for 5 days. Bailey hates the vet!! She tries to kill most of them. It's really wild. If a vet approches she will make the most demonic, possesed, shrill cat sounds and attack with equal ferocity, then turn around and give me a angelic little meow. Capella, on the other hand, is an angel. The vets love her. People love her. People who don't like cats love her. Even Bailey tolerates her.

The next day I caught a taxi at 4am to get to the airport by 4:30, just to breeze through check in by not checking any luggage and following all the rules for the ever changing security measures, so I could sit and wait to board the plane for 2 hours. If you live in Seattle, are actually reading this, and plan on flying out of Sea Tac airport check this out - http://www.portseattle.org/seatac/. It's good to check it on the night before, or the day of your flight, as things change daily. For example, last week, no liquids were allowed. Now people can actually take lip stick, lip balm and solid deodorant. If you ask me some people on flights should be required to take deodorant but I digress. The flight went well. Christine picked me up around noon. Yea! We ate lunch, and packed up what little she had left to take.

Turns out she had more then we thought. As we packed I kept thinking this is not going to fit in the truck. As the time we planned in leaving at approached, I mentioned this. Christine still thought it would. We loaded about 2 boxes into the truck (her pick up, not a moving truck) and she came around to my way of thinking. Frak! The next day we had U-Haul install a hitch on our pick up and rented a 4 x 8 trailer. So, you can't say, "everything went off without a hitch." Ha Hah Ha! We loaded up and got off around 13:00 and made our escape from the desert.

The rest of the trip went pretty smooth. It was long. It was boring. It would probably be pretty cool with about a week or two to stop and site see and no trailer in tow. We made our way west on I-10, through the heat, the wind power plants, and L. A. traffic. We just missed rush hour. Then north on I-5 through vineyards, rolling hills, farmland and the outrageous gas prices. We made our first hotel stop near Coalinga, CA a few hours after dark. A fair distance for about 9 hours driving. Then, in the morning, north again. North through Sacramento. North into the forests, mountains, and past Mt. Shasta. North into Oregon, where you can't pump your own gas. We know we're getting closer as latte stands start appearing at all the gas stations. Mountains, mountains, mountains, and we reach our final hotel stay in Salem, Oregon. The next morning we leave Salem for beautiful Portland, and wouldn't you know it, we are in Washington. Everything that is not water or inhabited by humans is forested now. Within a few more hours we are here, finally, in Seattle.

We decided that there some cities we will have to return to someday for a visit. Of them -

  • Portland, a beautiful looking city both day and night of bridges, rivers and parks.
  • San Francisco, although we didn't actually travel through it.
  • Possibly Sacramento, and Mount Shasta.

What we really need to do someday is travel to all of the above and down the Oregon/California coastline.

We ate - Beef jerky, water, soda pop, fries, Pringles, sauage, eggs, pancakes, coffee, more coffee, Oh I guess that was just me drinking all that coffee, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Denny's, almonds, walnuts, Mambas, gum, Red Vines, bagels, danish, and a host of other bad things containing chemicals and sugar.

We read - aloud to each other, Patrick O'Brian's The Fortune of War.

What matters now is that we are here, safe, together again.

To see a few more photos of out trip, click on the title, Phoenix to Seattle . . . above.

13 August 2006

Seattle Dry Suit Diving

Ha Hah! It looks like my brother-in-law, whom I took my open water class with in the first place, is coming to Seattle at the end of August. We are planning on taking a dry suit class. Whoo Hoo! I get to dive again. And fairly soon.

10 August 2006

The BBB

Well I was going to put up another post about cycling and I realized that although Neutral Buoyancy is my main blog and will always include posts about interesting events (at least interesting to me) in my daily life, I had originially intended it's subject matter to be primarily about SCUBA and ocean/sea related topics. Well since SCUBA has been put on the back burner, at least until we get settled in Seattle again, and I've been rambling on about cycling I created a new blog. Brian's Bicycle Banter. The BBB. This should keep any SCUBA/sea lovers from saying, "What the FRAK is all this cycling C**P."

08 August 2006

More Bicycle Banter

So it's been a while and nothing really of interest has happened. I've just been working, drinking lattes, talking to Christine on the phone, ruffing up the cats and cycling. So I'll bore you with a lot of mundane cycling chatter.

Probably about 4 years ago, the last time we lived up here in Seattle, I decided I would start riding my bike to work. It worked out fairly well. It's only about 7 miles, most of it on nice bike trails or smaller streets with less traffic. It took me about the same amount of time as waiting for and riding the bus.

I had a "mountain" bike at the time that I purchased sometime around 1993, so it was about 10 years old. Well it wasn't long before I was set on buying a new improved mountain bike with shock absorbers, more gears and even fatter knobbier (heavier) tires then the ones I had. Although like so many 4x4's and SUV's I would probably never take it off road on a trail. Once I had the money I started looking around the local bike shops and my quest took me to Recycled Cycles.

Now I had an old beat up 10 speed when I was in high school (these are the 80's) that I got at a garage sale somewhere for 50 bucks. Skinny tires. Electric tape on the handlebars. Wheels all out of true. Shifters that barely worked. One brake. The front one. But I took that bike all over the neighborhood. In the desert, through sand, cactus. (Why did I never get a flat?) Over small jumps that my friends little brother had set up. (How come I never broke a spoke?) So anyway, the "road" bike wasn't unheard of to me.

So when I was at Recycled Cycles I decided to test ride a few. GAWD! It was so fast! So light! So easy to ride! And this is on a bicycle that still has a steel frame. What I was looking for all this time and I didn't even know it. This whole mountain bike craze that came up through the 80's and 90's was just foolishness for us city dweller/commuters. I had found my way back to what cycling should be like. After test riding a few, I settled on one that was in my price range. Although the shop is Recycled Cycles, I purchased a new bike from them. A Fuji Ace which you can see in my previous post. I think it was around 400 bucks. Cheap for a road bike. And it is sort of cheap as far as road bikes go. But it's the best bike I've ever had and what's low end today was high end at one time.

I have a bicycle computer and when the odometer read something like 800 miles one of my spokes broke. This is when I discovered a neighborhood shop, Aaron's Bicycle Repair. They took care of me. Replaced my spoke and trued my wheel while I waited. A few weeks later another spoke broke. Same wheel. The back wheel. The one that most of the weight is on. This is where low end (cheap) comes in on the bike. Aluminum spokes. Oh yes they say they are lighter and faster. Folks . . . if you are buying a road bike for commuting or any sort of long term riding on bumpy, pot hole infested city streets, don't get cought up in these racing wheels with the new fangled, light weight spokes. Get yourself some good 32 stainless steel spoke wheels. You won't regret it. There's a reason you still see them on touring bikes. They last. Check out the page on wheel building at the website for Aaron's Bicycle Repair to learn more. OK, where were we. Ah yes, the second spoke broke. Needless to say I had Aaron's Bicycle Repair build me a new wheel which, at almost 2000 miles now, I am still happily riding on. Plus free truing forever. You can't complain with that.

Recently I stopped back by Aaron's to have the wheel trued and a strange noise down in my crank looked at. (Which they did again, while I waited.) They noticed 2 other safety issues with the bike that had to be addressed first before they would do the other work. First was a break cable housing that was to short. Second was a hole in the front tire that the tube was pushing through. They said a blowout in the front and you're gonna crash. I don't want to crash so I got 2 new tires. Schwalbe, Marathon Plus. They got a rubber layer built in the tire (shown at right) that you can't push a thumb tack through. This seems to be true as I rode 30 miles yesterday and at the end of the day I pulled a 1/4 inch piece of glass out of the tire (hole at left) without a problem.

My next and latest dilemma involved a pannier pack and rear rack I purchased. The rear rack (at right) was allow-ing the pack to hit the spokes. But I exchanged the rack for another (left, mounted on bike) and now there are no problems. Note how the second racks bars extend farther to the rear on the bottom. This keeps the packs clear away from the spokes. This last picture shows the reflective pannier packs mounted on the rack. No more hot sweat soaked shirts from wearing a backpack.

25 July 2006

Seattle Cycling Again!

During the short time that I've been back I've rediscovered my passion for cycling. With the cooler climate, scenic beauty, slower traffic and greater number of bike trails, why shouldn't I? Watching Le Tour de France everyday (Good job Landis!) and not having a car right now has helped to encourage me. I think of the bicycle as a very romantic machine. A wonderful transference of energy from the body through the pedals, cogs, chain, wheels down to the pavement. It's beauty in motion. When I lived here in Seattle before I would frequently go on 10 - 60 mile rides, and commute 7 miles to and from work. This I intend to do again.
The other day I was actually pulled over, by a cop, on my bike! I had come to a stop at a redlight. A neighborhood stoplight at an intersection that didn't have that much traffic. All the cross traffic had gone by. All clear. I decided to go. I know it was against the light, but hey some people walk against the light, some people ride. Just as I start I look up and sitting directly across from me was a cop. I don't know how I didn't see him. Well I was already starting to cross. He knew I was crossing. I knew he knew I was crossing. To late now. He gave a little chirp on the sirien. Great. Fraking great. I nodded to him and rode on. Then he actually turned around and pulled me over. I stopped and he got out of the car.
Cop- "Could you step off of the bicycle?"
Me- (((((Thinking))))) (((((This guy can't be serious?!? Like I'm going to try to make a get-a-way on my bike something.)))))
I step off.
Cop- "My name is Sargeant A**hole. Do you know why I pulled you over?"
Me- (((((Ah I guess because you are a big, fat jerk!!!))))) "Ah because I rode through that red light."
This is the point where Sargeant A**hole asks me why I would do such a thing and I try to explain that some how I didn't think it really mattered on a bike and the how intersection looked perfectly safe, there were no cars, etc, etc, without looking like a complete moron. When in realty Sargeant a**hole, I and the rest of the world know that I just didn't want to sit at that stoplight and it was perfectly safe to cross.
Sargeant 'A' (This is how we will refer to the role of 'Cop' from now on.)- How is your driving record?"
Me- "Excellent!"
Sargeant 'A'- "Can I see your drivers license or ID card please?"
Me- (((((Are you from another planet?!?))))) "Sure." (((((I bet he didn't even think I had one on me.)))))
Sargeant 'A' takes my drivers license to his car, and procedes to run it through his computer showing him that indeed I do have an excellent driving record and no warrents out for my arrest unlike most of the other people I see around me. I pretend to look at the flowers and landscape at the house I'm next to when in reality I'm looking at all the hoodlums and gangster wannabe's driving by that live in this neighborhood and still thinking "You pulled me, on my bike, over?" Sargeant 'A' comes back.
Sargeant 'A'- "Do you know that it's an 81 dollar fine for running a red light on a bicycle?"
Me- (((((Now why would I know such a thing?))))) (((((I DO NOW))))) "No."
Sargeant 'A'- "Don't ride through any redlights again."
Me- (((((What? He's actually not going to give me a ticket? I guess we can change his name from capital 'A' to small 'a'.))))) "I WON'T."
I ride away on my bike. Scene fades out.
Then, about 2 days ago, after passing 1700 miles on my bike computer odometer (yeah I got one of those things), I came as close to falling while riding as I ever have. I know it's just a matter of time. It scared the hell out of me. The culprit was a crummy section of roadway that I hit while trying to avoid another crummy section of roadway. And I must admit it has been hard for me to get used to the old saddle again, but it's only a matter of time. I'll stick with 14 to 20 mile bike rides to work or Alki beach for now.

GAH! The HMD.

Sheeesh, for about 4 days after I moved to Seattle I didn't have internet access. I took the 'hand me down' computer and left the good one with Christine until she gets up here. Now the HMD (hand me down) computer hasn't been connected to the internet in a long long time and it downloaded a million updates for windows and probably a virus or two because upon restarting it didn't work. So frustrating! Two more days spent with no internet. Soooooo many things I wanted to look up too. Bus schedules, bank locations, email, etc. The good thing is the HMD doesn't really have anything important saved on it and all that was needed was a few hours at the local computer shop for a reformatting. I also upgraded the RAM. I'm dumbfounded as to why Dell would create a 2+ Ghz computer with only 128 mb of RAM, but they did with this one and it was really bogging things down. So all in all my little computer world is good now. I'm going to get a burger!

20 July 2006

Phoenix twas but a dream

Phoenix twas but a dream
I always said while I was living in Phoenix that the years I lived in Seattle (1999-2004) seemed like a dream. Now that I’m back in Seattle, Phoenix is just a dream. My job, the desert, our house, all a distant memory. It's like I never left Seattle. My first shift at work, just like old times. Yet everything is different. The hotel has been renovated and added on to, yet many of the people and operations are the same. It’s like I was transported to an alternate universe Seattle. The bus I used to take home was the 20. Now it’s the 120. New towers have sprung up in the city. In my old neighborhood, new shopping centers have opened up and many homes have been torn down to the ground and rebuilt. Yet it’s people and operations are the same.

On another note my wife and I miss each other deeply. Her old job up here doesn't need her until mid August so she stayed to keep working in Phoenix and to help sell our house.

1500 Miles


The Task- Travel 1500 miles from Phoenix to Seattle with all our worldly possessions and 2 cats in 3 days.
The Means- a 26 foot yellow Penske moving truck.
The Sherpa- My brother, Lane.
We kept the cats in specially made containers in the back. Even if we kept them in the front, there wouldn’t have been space for the cat carriers. Each container I made was large enough to hold, one cat, a cat bed, litter box, and food/water. They were basically 2 foot by 2 foot by 4 foot boxes made from peg board. Nothing was placed on top of the containers or anywhere where it could fall on top of them. We checked on the cats at every gas station. We left at 22:00, under the cover of darkness, to escape the heat of the desert. True our truck had air conditioning but not in the back where the cats were. By about 05:00 we made it through most of Los Angeles. We made through before rush hour! We pressed on through the day until about 16:00 when we finally had to pull over for some sleep. A crummy, over priced hotel in Anderson, just south of Redding. Crummy, although they accepted cats. The plan was to get up and back on the road by 03:00 but my cell phone doesn’t have a snooze and we over slept. I think we made it on the road at 04:30. Eleven and ½ hours later we reached our destination in West Seattle. Each fuel stop took 70-100 dollars worth of diesel. The fuel cost about as much as the truck rental itself. We survived on water, Gatorade, Dr. Pepper, Coke, coffee, Starbucks Doubleshots, Chezzums, beef jerky, Combos, apples, bananas, carrots, Chinese food, burgers, gum, cookies, and more road trip crap, I’m sure. It took us almost 2 full days.

10 July 2006

X-Ray Magazine

Here's something even better. X-Ray Magazine is an online scuba diving magazine with a wide range of great content. Completely free. Download the whole magazine. There is an option to sign up and receive email notices when a new issue has just come out. But registration is not necessary to download and read the magazine. All back issues are also available for download. Looks like I got some reading to do.

Dive Zero Video Magazine

For those of you who are jones'n for a dive check this out. http://www.divezero.com/ The web site really seems to be just a big advertisment for their video DVD's. I guess they produce a new one each month. It's supposed to be a whole video magazine. It sounds quite cool. I just find myself going to the website and watching the short video clips.

06 July 2006

Mead

I got another hobby when I'm topside. I'm a wine maker of a sort. Well it's not really wine. It's mead. To those of you who have never tried it I can best describe it as similar to an ice wine or a port. Like a wine it can be dry or sweet, although the tendency with meads is sweet or semi sweet. With wine you are fermenting grapes. With Mead you are fermenting honey. In it's most basic form it is, just that . . . honey, water, and yeast. From most wine drinkers, based on my personal experience, it gets a bad rap. It is known to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest alcholic drink known to man. The honeymoon was a tradition where the bride and groom would drink mead for a month in hope of having children. Popular in the middle ages with kings and high society, it had a bit of a falling out as wheat, barly, and grapes were more common and less expensive then honey. But I believe in the last few decades it's making a come back, both commercially and with the home brewer. And why shouldn't it, there being as many different types of honey (if not more) as there are grapes. Why shouldn't any fermented fruit drink be as popular as wine for that matter. Ever hear of cider, pear cider, plum wine? But I digress. Another interesting aspect of mead is it's name changes with the ingredients. Add grapes to a mead, it's a pyment, add apples it's a cyser, herbs and spices make it a methlegin, fruit (other then fruit named above) makes it a melomel. I've been working with it for about 8 years now and have won a few small contests. Currently I have 6 gallons of a straight mead that has been fermenting for 2 months. I'm going to rack and divide it up tomorrow. In a 3 gallon carboy I'm adding peach juice, thus it will become a peach melomel. In another gallon I plan to add lavender (lavender metheglin). That should leave me with about 2 more gallons which I haven't decided what to do with yet and may just stay as it is. Below I'm including a successful recipe for a blackberry melomel I did a few years ago.


Blackberry Melomel

Ingredients

  • 13 pounds Mt.Rainier Fireweed Honey
  • 3 teaspoons Pectic Enzyme
  • 2 teaspoons Diammonium Phosphate (DAP)
  • 2 teaspoons Superfood Yeast Nutrient
  • 2 Campden Tablets
  • 2 gallons of hand picked Blackberries yielding ~ 6.5 quarts or 13 pints of Blackberry juice.
  • Wyeast Labs Vinter’s Choice Sweet Mead Yeast #3184 (Smack Pack)
  • Water
  • Holy Water
  • Malic and Tartaric acid
  • Tannin

Process

For 3 days I hand picked blackberries in my spare time. All the blackberries were crushed by hand and strained through cheese cloth. 1 gallon of crushed blackberries, strained, yielded ~ 3 quarts of juice. A Campden tablet was added to the juice for 24 hours. In the mean time I picked up the honey form the local farmers market and the Yeast from the brew shop. A yeast starter was created.
08/07/2004- 1 gallon of water (plus 1 small bottle of holy water) was heated to boiling on the stove, removed from the heat, and added to 12 pounds of honey. This mixture was poured into the carboy along with nearly a gallon of chilled blackberry juice (2 quarts remaining) and a few gallons of chilled water. To this I added the yeast starter, both now being at the same temperature. 1 ½ teaspoons of DAP and 1 ¾ teaspoons of Superfood were added. The must was aerated via the use of an electric egg beater. The gravity of this must read 1116 or 15%. The carboy was sealed and there was a strong ferment 6 hours later.
08/08/2004- When the gravity dropped to 1094 (12%) I added the remaining 2 quarts of blackberry juice. This filled the carboy to the top.
08/10/2004- Gravity 1078 (10%)
08/14/2004- As the gravity dropped to 1060 (8%) I added ½ teaspoon of DAP and ¼ teaspoon of Superfood.
09/02/2004- When the fermentation slowed and the gravity dropped to 1030 (3.5%) I racked off the sediment and added 1 pound of honey and ~ 1 quart of water to the new carboy.
11/23/2004- Gravity 1038 (4.5%) Racked 3 gallons into 3 - 1 gallon carboys. Bottled the rest.
06/15/2005- After tasting a small bottle with different acid blends I added 1 teaspoon Malic, 1 teaspoon Tartaric, and 1/8 teaspoon Tannin to 2 of the 3 remaining gallons.
06/17/2005- Bottled.

04 July 2006

Eastern Caribbean Cruise


Some cold water divers I've been talking to were wishing to hear dive reports about the warm water places I've been to so today I'm going to talk about our Caribbean Cruise. Now I haven't done to many dives but my open water classes were aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. A 138,000 ton ship accommodating 3114 guests. It sounds like a lot of people but I never felt crowded. The ship has 15 decks, a royal promanade (shopping mall) 3 salt water pools, dive center, basketball court, fitness center, track, rock climbing wall, wedding chapel, inline skating course, ice skating rink, casino, library, conference center, Johnny Rockets, several bars, resturants, buffet & clubs, not to mention the University of Miami's state-of-the-art oceanographic and atmospheric science lab. We saved up our pennies and stayed in a stateroom with a balcony. It's a real pleasure sleeping in your room, with the doors open, listening to the sea. The cruise took us for 7 days to the ports of San Juan, St. Maartin, St. Thomas, and Nassau, departing and arriving at/from Miami.

Ok ok, if you do take the open water dive class on a 7 day cruise, go out and buy the PADI dive manuel (or whatever instruction manual that ship uses) and read it first. I tell ya, it's a good thing my wife's family came with us because most of the time I was either taking the dive class, doing pool dives, open water dives, or reading that big freaking book.

As far as the dives, hmmm, let me see what I can remember since I just packed my dive log for our move. Ah I got it! My PADI online dive profile. None of the dives were to extreme. (Open water class, remember). All were boat dives.

The first 2 were in St Thomas.
  • Site - Buck Island Cove
  • site depth - 45 feet
  • vis - 80 to 100 feet
  • temp - 70 to 80 degrees
  • small wreck & small reef.
The second 2 were in Nassau.
  • Site 1 - Bahama Mama
  • site depth - starts our around 30 and they say over the wall it drops into a 6000 foot oceanic trench!!
  • vis - 80 to 100 feet
  • temp - 70 to 80 degrees
  • The dive operator was Stuart Cove's Aqua Adventures . This is a great site to see Caribbean Reef Sharks. There were almost always 1 to 4 sharks within our field of vision. Most around 5 feet in length. I understand this is where they filmed the shark scenes for Open Water and Into The Blue. Were there sharks in Into the Blue? I don't recall. In fact we sort of swam into the set for that movie. Where the plane is sunk. Oops. I remember the film crew were using something so you could hear them speak under the water. If the sharks weren't erie enough, swimming out over that trench to attain our 60 depth was. All of a sudden that sandy bottom slopes away into dark blue.
Site 2 of Nassau was a short boat ride back in towards shore. Only maybe 15-25 feet of depth here. Otherwise the same conditions. I don't remember any sharks at this location.
Of all the dives on the cruise we saw Caribbean Reef Sharks, Yellowtail Snapper, Yellow Jacks, Blue Tangs, Squirrlfish, Wrasse, Trumpetfish, Redband Parrotfish, Yellowtail Damselfish, and Nassau Grouper to name a few. I would do any and all of the dives again. But hey, I love to dive. See my scuba photos of this trip and other's here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/neutralbuoyancy/sets/72157605653051581/

02 July 2006

Legend Of The Diablo Rojo


Ok ok for today well go back to a dive topic. I saw a great show last night on the Humboldt Squid which live in the Sea of Cortez. I find octopus and squid very facinating. The Humboldt Squid are possibly man eaters. Although I'm sure we eat a lot more of them then they do us. Anyway, by chance I came across the an online article by one of the divers that was in the show. Also about Humboldt Squid. Check it out. http://www.deeperblue.net/article.php/696/3 If you're still interested, do a search for Humbolt Squid. There's a lot of information on the web about them.

01 July 2006

Modest Mouse

Here are some of the lyrics from "The world at Large" by Modest Mouse. When Christine and I listen, it sort of sums up how we feel about moving back to Seattle, or moving to any other city for that matter.
"Ice-age heat wave, can't complain.
If the world's at large, why should I remain?
Walked away to another plan.
Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand.
I move on to another day,
to a whole new town with a whole new way.
Went to the porch to have a thought.
Got to the door and again, I couldn't stop.
You don't know where and you don't know when.
But you still got your words and you got your friends.
Walk along to another day.
Work a little harder, work another way.
Well uh-uh baby I ain't got no plan.
We'll float on maybe would you understand?
Gonna float on maybe would you understand?
Well float on maybe would you understand?
The days get shorter and the nights get cold.
I like the autumn but this place is getting old.
I pack up my belongings and I head for the coast.
It might not be a lot but I feel like I'm making the most.
The days get longer and the nights smell green.
I guess it's not surprising but it's spring and I should leave."


29 June 2006

1969 Beetle

I've owned a car for 10 years. A 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. I love this little car. I can't drive in this car more then 10 miles with out someone checking it out. Most of the time it's little kids or older folk (volk). Everyone knows someone who had a beetle or they had one themselves. But there's no air conditioning, which is pretty rough down here in the desert. And it's a lot of work. You got to check and adjust those valves at least every other oil change. It's an old engine. Fairly reliable, but sometimes things do break down. The good thing is, for the most part, you can fix those problems yourself. And even when it must to go to the mechanic it usually cost very little. And I haven't had a car payment in the last 10 years. Being the same age as me it's sometimes more like a sibling then a car. It has it's own personality, of sorts. Over the years Christine and I have tried to give it several names but none of them ever stuck. Well the time has come for me and my little car to part our ways. It's up for sale. We won't really need to cars in our family in Seattle and I'm not even sure I will have a place up there to even work on it. I feel really bad. Like I'm sort of betraying the car. I think to myself, "I'm going to sell this car to someone and they are just gonna wreck it in 6 months." But I have to look at it for what it really is. It's just a machine. Still, I'm going to miss it.

28 June 2006

Seattle


So I had 3 great days in Seattle. I know how green is is there but it's still a shock after living back here in the desert for 2 years. It's like a freaking paradise. The weather was great, almost to hot, the whole time I was there. Sunday was pretty much just a party day. My friends dragged me out to Seattle Center where the gay pride parade just marched to. At right, dancing in the fountain, is Randy, Marge, myself in the back, Jeff and Shelly. From there we proceeded to a gay pride block party on Capital Hill. Monday was my job interview. Got the job. Tuesday was find an apartment. Found one. And wednesday, relax and fly back. So everything is going according to plan. Yes, yes, everything . . . hoo hoo ha hah ha! Now I just need to pack up my whole life by the 13th so I can move it all up there by the 15th and start work on the 19th. Sheesh. On top of that I hope to sell my car before leaving. We'll only need one car up there. And hopefully our house sells soon!

25 June 2006

Phoenix Airport

It's 7am & I'm sitting in Phoenix waiting for my plane to Seattle. We lived there and are trying to move back. I have 3 days to find an apt. and interview for a job before flying back to AZ.

22 June 2006

Scuba T-Shirts

For those of you divers that want everyone to know your passion, finally some tastefull t-shirts. I haven't actually purchased one of these to see how well they are made, and I don't know if you need an obsession with scuba to appreciate them, but I sure do like some of the designs.

21 June 2006

Naked Scuba Diving

I found this article in Yvon Marier's blog - Easy Traveling. It appears that it was first published here - http://www.getscubadiving.com/naked-scuba-diving.html. It's worth the read. All about, you guessed it, Naked Scuba Diving. What to watch out for when doing it (Yikes!) and places where you can go to do such a thing.

20 June 2006

Lake Pleasant II (DPV's)

Sunday, June 11, 2006
Well got 2 more dives in again. Same lake, same crummy vis. Scary part is I almost like it. I hooked up with the same buddy as last week and Justin brought some Dive Propulsion Vehicles (DPV's) for us to play around with. So that was cool. They (DPV's) would be really nice in clear vis. After the DPV dive my buddy had to take an advanced open water student down below 60 feet for his deep dive. I wanted to see what was at the bottom of this lake so I tagged along. At 72 feet that lake is freaking COLD! I'd have to say around 55 - 60 degrees. Not a place to wear a 3mm wet suit. So we basically dropped down for like 2 seconds and left. Back at 25 feet the water felt like a hot tub.

Lake Pleasant

Monday, June 05, 2006
Lake Pleasant (not so pleasant)
So saturday I ran into my dive instructor/friend Justin in the Sport Chalet. He said that they are up at the lake (lake Pleasant) every sunday teaching classes and if I ever wanted to go just let him know and he would throw in some extra gear for me to use, at no charge. I said cool, I'll be there tomorrow. Downside- GAH! Vis in the lake was worse then San Carlos. Only 5-15 feet. Mostly around 8. Only a few fish (of notable size). Junk/beer cans.
Upside- Got to hang out with Justin & Terra again. Got some more downtime. All this low visibility should be helping me improve my buddy awareness and nav skills. When I finally get back to the Carribean/Hawaii it's going to be like heaven on earth.

San Carlos Dive Trip

On the weekend of May 26th I had the chance to take a little dive trip with some new friends down to San Carlos, Mexico. Well, we picked the wrong weekend. All I've been hearing about San Carlos diving is that the visibility is never less then 40 feet and sometimes up to 100! Well some strange currents moved in and made the water temperature just right for a big algae bloom. Our first dive you could only see about 3-4 feet. I spent most of the time just trying to keep track of my dive buddy. The second day was a little better with a vis of about 10 - 15 feet. We were trying to take a boat out to San Pedro island where it was supposed to be good but the seas were so ruff that it would have taken us 3 hours to get there. About 1/2 of us got sea sick. The last day I picked up some good drugs for sea sickness, and was the best diving with a vis of about 15 - 20 feet. Not really good by any standards. It was like diving in Puget Sound again. I will recommend Gary's Dive Shop if you ever go down there though. On the bright side I went down with some good people, had a nice hotel room, got to try out my underwater camera housing (though no real good pictures in that murk) finished my Advanced Underwater diving class, and also got certified to use Enriched Air/Nitrox. Scuba photos of San Carlos as well as others here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/neutralbuoyancy/sets/72157594446978102/

Rest . . .

Rest is good for the blood.